Documenting the Live, in History: High Performance Magazine, 1978-1983
Between 1978 and 1983 High Performance, a magazine devoted to performance art, ran open submissions for documentation of work performed within one year of the published issue. This paper considers High Performance not only as a record of live performance in history, but as an archive of documentation which resurfaces as a generative force for creating new work. I argue that High Performance is positioned at the intersection of a number of different, at times competing, temporalities of performance and performance art history. Concerned with publishing documentation of performance shortly after its first iteration the magazine represented a space for the exhibition and dissemination of an artistic form that eschewed conventional modes of visual display. Its relationship to the present is amplified by this commitment to recording the recent pasts of live performance. Individually and in sequence, each issue is succeeded by the next, but as a collection, it is an archive of performance, reflective of the particular historical and spatial location of what took place. Similarly, the result of a collective and collaborative labour, High Performance allows for individual contemplation and engagement with an otherwise historically and geographically distant form. In 2003, High Performance was the subject of an exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions which celebrated the legacy of the magazine. In January 2012, documentation of the 1980 Public Spirit performance festival published exclusively in High Performance, was used as a platform for the re-performance of historical works by contemporary Los Angeles artists. Using these examples this paper considers the specific temporal qualities of High Performance as an engagement with performance art history distinct from other modes of documentation. This use of the magazine as an engagement with the past but also as a force for creating new work, exceeds the transiency of the artists' magazine genre.
Citation : Curtis, H. (2013) Documenting the Live, in History: High Performance Magazine, 1978-1983. Performance Studies international (PSi) conference Stanford University, 26th-30th June.
Research Institute : Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies
Peer Reviewed : No
- School of Arts